Today I am going to tack on an addendum to the usual tip. As I was making dinner tonight, another tip occurred to me. So keep reading for lots of information - and be sure and share your own tips in the comment section! :-)
When buying pre-bagged produce, weigh a couple of bags on the store's scales. A 10 lb. bag of potatoes might actually contain 12 pounds. A pound of carrots may be a bit short. If it's a set price, the heavier, the better!
This one is another that is fairly self-explanatory. There is a margin of error that is allowed in bagged produce. You want to err on the side of too much, not less! Pick a couple of bags of whatever you're buying (potatoes, apples, etc.) and pop them on the scale. You might find a bag of potatoes that is 11.5 pounds or a 3.75 pound bag of apples. This helps ensure you get the most for your money.
On this topic, be sure you check to make sure that the bagged produce is really your best-cost option. On occasion, you might find that the individual items are a bit less. Also, if you aren't going to use up 10 lbs. of potatoes or 3 lbs. of apples before they go bad, then you should get the individual items instead. Only buy what you can use while the food is good. Food waste is NEVER a money savings.
Now for the bonus tip that occurred to me earlier:
Make your meat multi task! I know that sounds a little silly, but it's definitely an effective tool in stretching your dollars. For instance, recently I cooked a small roast for dinner. We ate roast with potatoes the day I cooked it, and then there was a small amount leftover. I turned it into Beef Mushroom Spaghetti the next day. I've learned that you can frequently substitute shredded steak or roast for ground beef in recipes with excellent results.
Yesterday I cooked a chicken in the crock pot. Last night we had the chicken, rice, spinach salad, and rolls for supper. Tonight, I deboned the rest of the chicken and shredded most of it up for chicken enchiladas tonight. I still have one large full breast left that will become chicken salad for lunch tomorrow and/or a chicken alfredo pizza on Friday for dinner! In addition, I have the stock in the refrigerator that will make a wonderful soup. Since it's so hot, I will likely freeze it for later. The chicken cost me $2.85 on sale, and it is going to make as many as 5 meals - how can you beat that??
Of course, now we're getting into using leftovers creatively, and that's a tip we'll cover later. :-)
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